Insulation

If you know anything about by us now, you know that we research everything we do to the nth degree… well, as well as we can.

The same holds true for our quest to find the right insulation. When we took the interior of the bus apart, we swore that we wouldn’t even think about using fiberglass at all. The insulation we took out was awful, some of it was filled with dirt, some of was smashed to pieces, and a lot of it had gotten wet. As with most fiberglass, no matter how well you cover your skin, it finds a way to make you itch.

Initially, we thought about using spray foam, but that idea was quickly extinguished simply due to cost. Our estimate set the price of roughly 700 dollars, and that’s with us doing it ourselves… With it’s R value per inch(6.5), it can’t really be beat in terms of insulating properties

The next idea was using foam boards. There are several different types…

Expanded polystyrene foam – r value of 3.5 – 4 per inch
Extruded polystyrene foam – r value of 4.5 -5 per inch
Polyisocyanurate and polyurethane foam – r value of 7 – 8 per inch

With the curves of the ceiling and the cost of these options, we mostly opted out of them too but they are all good options as well.

We scored some expanded polystyrene 2ft x 4ft x 1inch sheets for free off a job that Blake was working at. They over ordered what they needed and we ended up being able to take some home with permission. While this isn’t going to be our main insulation, it will be utilized in several different areas of the bus!

With research, we hear about Roxul, a mineral wool fiber insulation with an r value of 4.2 per inch. It’s also fire-proof (it eventually melts at 2100 degrees, but never combust) and waterproof, both things we really like.

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We were at the local ReStore and happened across a pallet of 7 bundles of 5inch thick Roxul marked down to 30 dollars a bundle. We immediately were shocked at that deal but they even knock the price down to $25 a bundle. We walked out of there with 90% of the insulation we needed for 189.90, tax included.

We never do it the easy way.

 

Blake crafted a holder for the insulation out of scrap wood. He cut the side walls to be 2″ high, which just below the middle of the insulation. At first we tried to use a wire to cut the insulation but couldn’t keep it tight enough to make the cut consistent so Blake fashioned a cutting harp out of scrap wood and the wire. We went back and forth together in a saw like motion on each piece twice. This gave us two 2″ pieces and one 1″ piece.

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Once we finished cutting down the sheets of insulation, we started fitting and installing them on the ceiling of the bus using box cutters. One sheet fit one in between the ribs with a small gap horizontally and excess insulation vertically. We would just cut the excess and fill in the holes. We were able to use the 1″ pieces of insulation folded in half to make 2″ or pieces of it to fill in space. Somehow, we the amount of insulation we bought (which was all that ReStore had) was the perfect amount we needed. We were able to insulate the walls and ceiling using the 7 bundles.

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There was difference pretty quickly.

-b&c

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The Floating Floor

*I’d first like to say that this post marks the first time we are actually adding to the bus. Up until this moment, we have been demoing and cleaning the bus of the life it once had and to us, putting in the floor was a huge stepping stone. It’s our first step into our future, it’s our first step in BUILDING our home. Needless to say, we’re pretty excited.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetNow back to flooring.. one of the biggest problems a bus is prone to is rust which we discovered when we were in the demoing stage of our bus. A lot of rust in busses we’ve seen and even in our own, the rust forms on the flooring. One of the reasons is because nails, screws, and bolts were put directly through the floor to secure the original bus flooring and bus seats. Over time and with the flex of the bus, water was able to makes it’s ways through these holes and eventually, you get nasty rust. This is something we didn’t want to perpetuate so we decided to make our subfloor, float.

No, It’s not a magical trick, but it does allow us to keep the sheet metal floor solid. After working so hard to get rid of the rust and to seal the floors, we didn’t want to just put more holes in it. Instead we will use pressure to keep the floor in place and this will also benefit the floors to be able to flex with the bus and allow the plywood to expand  during temperature change.

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We didn’t use glue or any other adhesive to adhere the foam to the actual bus, it was only adhered to itself using aluminum hvac tape.

* side note, try to minimize the amount that you walk on your foam to decrease the dents left behind. We worked out of the emergency exit and should of started laying down insulation from front to back but didn’t. You can see the dents going down the aisle of the foam.

We were able to get all of the floor insulation laid out in one day. The next day was dedicated to laying out the plywood.

Using the foam as a guide, we cut the plywood with a jigsaw to match and fit into the corners.

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To save time and to have a guide, we used an angle iron and clamps to make a straight edge for the circular saw. This helped make each cut consistent and tight fitting. Be sure to measure for the distance of the guard to the blade on your saw though!

And as always, measure twice and cut once as dad would say!

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With just a little trimming, one sheet would cover the floor of the bus, left to right. We used only 9 sheets of plywood or so to cover the floor.

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Lay down your plywood from where your working, out. For example, we were working out of the emergency exit, as you can see below, and we started laying the plywood from there to the front. This allowed us to walk on the plywood instead of the foam.

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It was so cold that day. For Christmas, Blake bought us both some insulated bibs and they really came in handy for working in temperatures like this.

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This photo shows a strange cut that was made easy by picking up the foam we had laid down the day before and using it as a pattern on the plywood.

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And there we have it, a floating subfloor!

To answer a couple questions we have had:
1. Most of our cabinetry will be attached to the walls and screwed to the plywood floor but not completely through to the metal floor which will help keep our sealed floor, sealed.

2. We were really against using OSB plywood at first because we were concerned with it’s water handling capabilities in case of leaking that happened before in the bus but since we’ve sealed all of our holes and made it water tight from bottom side, we were okay with using it and plus, we got it for free, which helps!

3. Once the plywood relaxes, we will seal between the edges of each sheet with silicon which will both add to the “waterproofing” and also allow our floor to flex without any squeaks, which we all know that a 40ft bus is bound to flex a bit while driving or changing weather conditions.

thanks for reading!

-b&c

 

 

Goo-Gone to the Rescue

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On day eleven, we have been scraping the reflective tape and sanding the exterior of the bus in preparation to paint it before it gets too cold.

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A razor scraper works great but takes time. I will say this was better than when we were removing rivets. A lot of people on our Instagram suggested we used a heat gun or hairdryer to help ease and quicken the process but we don’t own either and didn’t want to spend the money on it. We’ve come to the understanding that we have a tendency of making things a little harder for ourselves, but oh well.

If you’ve been following along with us, you might of seen that we had a letter of nuisance and one thing we did to appease the city was simply paint over the schools name where we got the bus. Now in prepping for painting, we pealed the vinyl letters off and are sanding it away.

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This is the last visual evidence of Bixby Schools, thank you for helping us make our dreams come true!

So like I said earlier, we want to use our money for plywood and paint instead of a heat gun so we had to put a little elbow grease into taking the reflective tape off. Instead, we used Goo-Gone and cheap razor blade scrapers from Lowes Home Improvement.

We sprayed the tape and allowed a few seconds for it to soak in. The tape then came off pretty easily. IMG_0862However, we chose to buy cheap, retractable scrapers and the issue is that they kept wanting to retract. I would suggest you spend a couple extra bucks for a better scraper. Also, buy a box of extra razors, you tend to break some here and there on the rub railing.

After we got the tape off, we went back over each section with a new razor to get the remaining glue residue off which can be best described as sticky, snot-like gunk. Then just wiped it down with a rag. To get an even paint coat, you need the residue to come off.

-b&c

We’re A Nuisance!

It’s been a while since our last update.

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Not long ago we received a notice on our door that the bus was a nuisance to our neighborhood as deemed by somebody. Whoever that may be, we have no idea.

Our notice stated that:

#1 Our bus is “..detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the City of Tulsa..”

#2 We must “Remove all inoperable vehicles from the entire lot or store within a fully enclosed structure. Unlicensed vehicles cannot be parked or stored on a residential lot.”

yay.

I should also mention that we received this notice on the door at 7:30am on a Monday and we hadn’t had our coffee yet. Imagine the initial frustrations that went through our heads half awake and not yet caffeinated.– After coffee we felt more at ease because as for #1 the bus obviously isn’t “detrimental to the health, safety and welfare” of Tulsa, and #2 the bus is in perfectly fine working order and is turned on often to get it’s fluids moving.

We called the number for the office and tried to figure out what was going on and why we were being notified of this when we had done the research and have met all ordinances and policies to the best of our knowledge.

Turns out that all we needed to do was put the license plate on it and take off any letter that implies that it is still owned by a school. We also moved it completely back onto the RV pad just in case anything came up (Before we had pulled up further on the grass so we had a larger walkway to the garage when working).

We wanted to post this to encourage anyone who is starting a project like this, please make sure you do your research. Each city/state has different zoning policies and laws that you need to educate yourself and become familiar with in case of situations like this. Luckily we did so we knew we were following protocol and will be fine. You kind find this information on your cities website.

Thanks for reading, b & c

Why this Bus.

Over the past few years, separately,  we’ve been weighing the options of different styles of tiny homes.

The typical answer to this is to build a tiny home on a flat trailer out of the typical building materials that a house uses. These are usually very cool looking and look something like a smaller version of a quaint cabin. The perk of the tiny home is that you get to create a home that is custom fitted to your needs. Also, since it is built like a house its very efficient and solidly built which should last a lifetime. However, building codes in most areas aren’t very applicable to these and as such, it seems that finding a place to park a tiny house is harder than an RV unless you have your own land where your neighbors don’t care. Over time, this problem has been getting better and easier to handle because more people are opening their eyes to these tiny houses but still should be considered in the back of your head if you are considering going this route. The other issue that we still haven’t found a straight answer to and changes depending on where you’re from is insuring such a domicile. Since it’s not technically a house, housing insurance won’t touch it and since it’s technically not an RV, that insurance won’t touch it. What we have heard is that if you can play your cards right and go through all the right channels that you can have it classified as a Custom Trailer and get it insured as that though I am doubting it won’t be for the full amount of money that you spent to build it. But hey, something is better than nothing!

If anyone has any insight, or corrections to this knowledge for Tiny House in the state of OK, feel free to time chime in, we would love to read about success stories in getting tiny houses recognized through the proper channels.

A little more “normal” is finding an Recreational Vehicle that is already outfitted and ready to go for you to take anywhere you want. You don’t have to build anything and everything you need is typically already there for you to live somewhat comfortably. The perks that we can see is that used RVs can be had for relatively cheap and they’re ready to go. Plus you can insure them pretty easily. We’re not a big fan of them though because they aren’t very sturdy, soundproof or efficient.

What we decided is somewhat middle of the road of these but maybe we’re a little biased since we just bought it, a Bus! We have been looking at craigslist for a little while now, off and on, and this guy popped up from a local high school down the road!

Perks of a bus in general

School buses are designated as a commercial vehicle originally but in our state, you can take it down to the DMV and have it re-registered as an RV once you get it converted which means that you can have it insured by pretty much any insurance agency!

Customization. Like the tiny house, you can rip out all the seats and poof (I wish it was that fast. ha) you have a flat floor plan that you can lay out in any crazy way you desire.

Drivetrain. Most of these school busses are designed to carry a busload of kids day in and out. Our bus for example was designed to carry 83 passengers. Lets say it was a middle school bus and lets say that a middle school student weighs 100lbs. That’s 8300 lbs of cabinets, beds, water, solar panels, and the kitchen sink while you’re at to work with. And that’s before you rip out the weight of the heavy seats.

Diesel engines have been known to go a million miles if you treat them right!

Why This Bus

Well first, is cost. This bus was well maintained (inch thick service records) and pretty cheap, plus it was less than 15 miles away which made transporting it to the house a pretty easy endeavour.

Flat front. The flat front/front engine format of this bus means that there is 34feet behind the driver of usable living space in this one. That’s 255sqft of living space! Pretty huge by tiny house standards. This will enable us to have a storage area accessed by the back door for our bikes/camping gear/whatnots.

We had to compromise on one thing, and that was the transmission. While an Allison trans is pretty stout, this one only has 4 gears though it is offset by our rear differential ratio which means that at 65 mph we will be able to keep it around 2200rpm. For diesels, this is maybe a touch high, but doable. Not that you want to see a school bus flying down the interstate at 65-70mph..

If you couldn’t tell, we’re pretty stoked about this bus.

-b&c